Mutua Madrid Open: Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep lead seeds’ charge into 2R

Naomi Osaka needed an hour and 27 minutes to defeat compatriot Misaki Doi 7-5, 6-2 in the first round of the Mutua Madrid Open on Friday. The world no. 2, who was playing on clay for the first time since her third-round loss at the 2019 French Open, was put through her paces by the qualifier before she steadied her ship.

Analysing her tactics, Osaka shared in her post-match press conference, “I try to play my natural way. I would say if I start thinking about grinding too much, I become a bit of a pusher and it’s not really good for me. Of course, you want to adapt to the clay and do things that are beneficial, but hopefully, I don’t change too much.”

In the second round, Osaka will take on Karolina Muchova. The Czech defeated Qiang Wang of China 6-1, 6-4 in their opening-round match.

Mutua Madrid Open: Simona Halep starts strong

The third-highest seed in the draw, world no. 3 Simona Halep also took her place in the second round. The Romanian defeated home favourite Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-0, 7-5 in an hour and 23 minutes.

Halep, a twice champion at Madrid, cruised in the match and was leading the Spaniard 6-0, 5-1 before the latter made a comeback attempt and brought the second set at par, on serve, at 5-all. However, the former world no. 1 brushed aside the brief lull in her game and won the last two games to make it through.

In the round-of-32, Halep will play Saisai Zheng who defeated Magda Linette 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka and sixth seed Karolina Pliskova also reached the second round in a quite different manner. Sabalenka needed just 66 minutes to defeat qualifier Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-2. On the other hand, Pliskova came from a set down to oust Coco Gauff 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 in two hours and two minutes.

In the second round, Sabalenka will take on another Russian in Daria Kasatkina. Kasatkina defeated Romanian qualifier Irina-Camelia Begu 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(1). Pliskova will also play a Russian in Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Pavlyuchenkova ousted Madison Keys 7-5, 6-2.

Other seeds who advanced to the second round at the Mutua Madrid Open were 11th seed Jennifer Brady, 12th seed Victoria Azarenka, 13th seed Elise Mertens and 16th seed Maria Sakkari.

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